To build or not to build?

—28th June 2019

That is the question. RedBook and Property Vision debated the ingredients that make the perfect house in the splendid setting of London’s Reform Club.

Left to right: Sandy Mitchell, the Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP and Philip Harvey

“The whole point of a bespoke house is that it fits you like a suit or dress made by a Savile Row tailor”

Exploring a fertile theme of the Perfect House, RedBook and buying agents Property Vision recently co-hosted a breakfast seminar on the topic: “How to build the perfect house…and what could possibly go wrong?”. Moderated by the Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP, who was the longest serving Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and the only ever Minister for Architecture, this was a lively session held in the august surroundings of the Reform Club on London’s Pall Mall, with guests drawn from the worlds of property, wealth management, legal and media.

Asked what are the magical ingredients that make the perfect house, Property Vision’s Senior Partner Philip Harvey was unequivocal: “The site is so important — it has to be able to support the house of your dreams. After that, it’s timeless architecture. That’s not to say it can’t be contemporary — it just has to be special. Great architecture stands on its own merits and doesn’t rely on dressing.

“I often say, if you stand at the end of the drive and like what you see and then go into the hall and still like what you see, every subsequent step is spent looking for reasons not to like it. If you don’t like it from the end of the drive or when you reach the hall, every subsequent step is looking for reasons why you should like it.

“A developer will often try and mask a poor site or poor architecture with gimmicks to tempt the buyer, but these rarely stand the test of time.”

RedBook’s founder Sandy Mitchell responded: “The whole point of a bespoke house is that it fits you like a suit or dress made by a Savile Row tailor. You get someone to choose what is perfect for you down to every last detail, rather than what happens to be on the market that someone wants to offer you as a limited range of choices to guarantee a profit margin.

“With a bespoke house, the ingredients for individuals can be taken to extremes, ranging from a dog staircase to a snow room. The imagination can truly run wild when you are creating your own space.”

So where should you go for help —and importantly, who should you avoid? Sandy is blunt on the latter: “Friends. They are a pretty unreliable guide. Their taste, their budget, their property, are not the same as yours. And any designer for whom the project is not their sweet spot – whether it’s size (too large, too small), distance, fees, typology and style.

“We joke that RedBook is a dating agency. We may not be arranging marriages, but we foster relationships that have to be strong enough to endure the ups and downs of building projects that could take up to a couple of years.”

For RedBook’s definitive guide on building a perfect house please visit Guides Part 1 and Part 2 

RedBook is a specialist consultancy that helps clients and their advisers select the perfect creative and technical team for significant property projects.

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